In Business News this week: Study suggests grey economy equal to 15 percent of GDP; meat production up after over decade of decline; personnel agencies warn of huge shortfall in some specialists; VAT rise on cigarettes to kick in next month; and smart phones pass out classic mobiles on Czech market.
The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto is having one of its most successful periods and last year sold a record one million-plus vehicles. However, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Wednesday, it is planning to hive off some workers into outside companies – a move that could spark strike action.
A proposal to force supermarkets and other shops to close on certain state holidays has won the broad support of the coalition government parties. Backing for the move which stems from the upper house of parliament, the Senate, was agreed at a meeting of leading government figures on Tuesday. Up till now the move has been supported by the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats but opposed by the ANO party. The proposal would close shops on seven holidays including Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Easter Monday.
Czech members of parliament, civil servants, government ministers, and judges have been shortchanged in their pay packets to the tune of several thousand crowns a month according to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had used the wrong figures to calculate average wages on which the state salaries were based. Czech papers reported Wednesday that members of parliament had lost out on around 5,000 crowns a month and the president around 13,000 crowns. Papers said they should be able to reclaim their past losses.
The coalition government has given its backing to a Senate bill limiting working hours on state holidays. The chairman of the Christian Democrats’ deputies club, Jiří Mihol, said the parties had reached agreement on the matter at a coalition council meeting on Monday. Government party ANO had previously expressed opposition to the change under which retail outlets with floor space exceeding 200 square metres would have to close on New Year’s Day, Easter Monday and five other state holidays. The Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism has come out against the plan, saying it should be up to retailers when to open.
Trade unions at the Tesco supermarket chain in the Czech Republic have threatened strike action after management announced plans to close two stores. The British-owned chain has said it is shutting branches at Smíchov in Prague and Ústí nad Labem in north Bohemia due to their poor location and strong competition. Union leaders say they fear that Tesco will close more stores, as it has done in other countries. They have declared a state of strike alert but say they will not go on strike before further talks with management or unless more branches are shut.
Unions and management of Czech Airlines (ČSA) are at loggerheads over a proposal for staff to take an average wage cut of around 40 percent, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. A union representative said the previous demand had amounted to a wage cut of around a third. The two sides have been attempting to seal a new collective agreement for a month. The cash strapped airline in October agreed 180 redundancies, mostly from cabin crew and pilots. Management of the still state-controlled carrier had originally called for 300 staff to leave.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose in December to 7.5 percent with almost 542,000 registered as job seekers, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Friday. November’s jobless rate stood at 7.1 percent. Even so, the latest figure is still a drop from the 8.2 percent unemployment rate at the end of 2013. The country’s worst jobless blackspots is now Bruntál in the far east of the country with 13.5 percent unemployment. It replaced Most which now has an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent.
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